The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – book review

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The blurb….

Emma
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Book Review

 

My review….

Wow! What a read! haven’t enjoyed a book since than Girl on a Train.. this kept me gripped so much that I completed it in 24 hours! I really enjoyed it – the tension continued throughout – and I liked the double narrative – ‘ Then’ – Emma’s story – ‘Now’ Jane’s story. The two women had very distinct personalities; they each went through similar experiences but their reactions were different. One example is the Sushi restaurant they are taken to by Edward – I found I related much more to Jane’s reaction than Emma.

Both women were recovering from a recent trauma – Emma having an intruder in her flat in the middle of the night and Jane – after losing a still birth.

The house appears to offer a place of recovery – the clean lines and uncluttered space is reflective of a monk’s cell – austere but with its own sense of serenity. The technology in the house is designed to intuitively support the needs of the occupants – shower settings are automatically adjusted each time to the person’s preferences.

However, the technology becomes oppressive – Jane finds services are withheld until she completes on going psychological tests – each of the questions are moral debates and add to the tension as the questions become more intrusive. The house also completes health checks and monitors overall wellbeing into a quantifiable score – Jane is expected to adjust to improve her scores.

The book blurb linked this with Girl on a Train (which I also loved) and Fifty Shades of Grey… (which almost put me off – I despised that book because it was so awful!) Yet, Edward Montford is a controlling character – JP Delaney understands dominant controlling behaviour and uses it very effectively. Edward has power – his designs have made him wealthy, he is good looking and he is also a perfectionist – which makes him quite an interesting character. I agree that there are also similarities between Girl on a Train… but I don’t want to spoil the read for you – so I won’t say why here.

The-Girl-Before-Review-Banner

The story unravelled at quite a pace – I loved the way the two characters experiences were similar and the way they engaged in a relationship with Edward – kept the tension. Edward had exacting standards – the conditions of living in the house were a huge list of rules – and the women sought to meet those exacting standards.

The plot twists were interesting – and the tension built nicely – I could not put the book down! The conclusion was satisfying – I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil it for you!

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I hate it when they use Americanisms… this is set in London, the story is English why then, does Jane refer to her bangs rather than her fringe? Surely American readers would be able to look it up – if they don’t know what a fringe is?

J.P Delaney is a skilful writer, although Good Reads describes them as

J. P. Delaney is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name.

I also note there is another book written under this name… which is great news! Clicking on Amazon as soon as I have finished this review.

The book is going to made into a film.. please leave it in London not New York like The Girl on the Train… !

Overall – five gold stars – ten out of ten -quite brilliant!

 

Darling buds of May – Sunday Sevens 14 May 2017

Saturday Sewing

I am sewing again… maybe it is spring fever – but it is good to feel inspired to stitch again. The last 6 months has been difficult for many reasons: my sewing room being packed up into boxes was one of them.  I haven’t yet sorted space in the flat – but this pattern inspired me so much that I raked through the boxes to find what I needed. It is sad but I will re-organise and get my sewing room back together – it is a promise I have made to myself and I have taken some time off in order to do it this month.

Lemon, ginger and honey tea

On Saturday night I went to see The Catfish Kings in Hayling Island – and met up with the friendly bunch from Jive and Boogie group. It is such fun – we all dress up in 1950s style (including the guys!) and dance swing jive. I had a great time – after an absence of almost three years! There is nothing quite like a good dance to raise vibrations and feel great! However,  I was out of condition – so it was not surprise that I woke up on Sunday morning in need of a little physical restoration.

Lemon, ginger, tumeric and honey tea recipe

Herbal teas are quite pricey – Tea Pigs give the most flavour and they are convenient, but sometimes it really is worth making your own – the flavour is deeper and you know exactly what has gone into the infusion. My version of lemon and ginger is anti-viral and a great restorative.

Zest the lemons – it is where most of the flavour comes from it makes a big difference. Add the juice of a lemon, together with a spoonful of honey – (I buy local honey from a Sussex beekeeper) I find the sweetness is necessary to counteract the lemon and it gives a little bit of energy – but you can leave it out if you wish.

Peel an inch of fresh ginger root; either grate it (which is best) or chop it finely – and add it to the pot. Then sprinkle quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric, this not only gives the tea a beautiful yellow colour – but it is being hailed as a wonder herb for many things including antivirals.

Pour over boiling water and allow to seep – I pump the plunger of my beautiful tea pot (a mother’s day gift from my daughter) a few times to really circulate the ingredients. For a truly sensuous experience – drink from a bone china tea cup, or your favourite mug.

We decided to take a walk, despite the rain (a novelty here in the last month of sunshine!).  This is the view from the Parish Church in Walberton; a pretty little chapel. These lovely churches have some beautiful kneelers – they are works of art and small dedication in canvass. This tiny  church was full of beautiful examples. I am not sure how well attended the church was, but to me they are a sign that someone loves and appreciates their church.

Kneeler Binstead church

Work has been busy – I am also trying to de-clutter – one of the advantages of having everything in boxes is that it makes culling things easier. It is shocking to see just how much I have accumulated – and it is all the small things, drawers full of bits and bobs that frankly look as if they are handy – but they have been there for years! The great step forward this week has been creating the pantry with new shelving. It is sublime!

Forgotten Skills of Cooking

I have a passion for all things domestic -this is a delightful read – not just full of recipes and old fashioned baking/home steading skills that have been largely forgotten. It is the stories that make this book a treasure – alongside recipes for scones is the connection with eating them after school! If you have ever wanted to be more self sufficient then this book will guide you along – cheesemaking, cordials, chicken keeping, jam making, salting and smoking!

Bloom where you are

I have discovered a great level of comfort in the joys of home making and savouring good things – so this quote is apt for what I am manifesting right now. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel – not only to have such a delightful job, a lovely home but great friends and family.  of course that also includes the lovely Barney.

Barney staffie

 

 

 

The Dress Shop of Dreams – Menna Van Praag book review

the-dress-shop-of-dreams-bookcover

This is the second book I have read from this author – she creates such cosy worlds full of kind people. The dress shop in question is magical – when a woman tries on one of the beautiful silk dresses – she is clothed in the confidence and beauty to attain her dreams – which mostly revolve around finding love.

This book is about love and loss and finding your way. It is full of kind hearted people who for many reasons are lost. Cora – a scientist has closed off her heart after the tragic death of her parents – begins to remember what happened that night and decides to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Walt – the owner of the nearby bookstore – makes the most delicious cherry pies – has been in love with Cora all his life – but Cora seems immune to his advances. He reads books on the local radio – and his deep voice draws may admiring letters which Walt has no interest in responding to. Dylan – the radio producer begins to write back to some of the ladies – and finds love.

dress shop of dreams

The shop owner – Etta – who is also Cora’s grandmother – is pining for a lost love years ago – and while she can stitch magic into the dresses that bring out confidence and beauty in every woman – she can’t help herself.

All these lovely broken people – somehow navigate their way through the book to a satisfying ending. This is a tale about love, loss and recovery and finding the courage to love again.

These books are a great escape and enjoyable to read – I intend to read another of her books soon.

Menna Van Praag – Lost Art of Letter writing book review

Menna-blog

I can’t recall how I stumbled across this author, but I am so glad I did, if you enjoyed Chocolat then this author is going to really delight the senses – she writes joyful tales that include just a sprinkling of magic, in the same way that Chocolat does – its believable magic, that hint that somewhere out there is a force for good.

I don’t know about you, but with all that is going on in the world, I find I want to escape into a good book, where people are kind, and there is hope – Menna’s writing is just such an escape and the settings she chooses for her tales are so close to my heart that I find them irresistible.

Letter writing

The Lost Art of Letter Writing begins with a tiny, shop tucked away in the Cambridge, it contains beautiful paper, pens and a magical writing desk. Clara the shop owner walks the streets after closing – observing the inhabitants and then writes them letters of encouragement – these letters give hope or support – what ever she is drawn to write.

However, waiting for her is her own mystery, a discovery of a box of letters that send Clara on an adventure beyond the four walls of the shop. It is not just her story, there is a mix of other stories interwoven – the people Clara sends encouraging letters to – which fragmented the story a little.

However, it is a pleasurable read, one that I could recommend.

 

Blithe Sunday Sevens 23rd April

 

 

tulips and hyacinths in pink
spring flowers

Aren’t these just delightful? They have been giving me joyful pleasure every day this week! The hyacinths have just enough scent to fill the room and the delicate pink of the tulips with their deep red interiors have given me a joyful respite even on the busiest of days.

 

Journalling
Journalling with flowers and vintage tea cup

Every morning I spend a few minutes jotting down my thoughts – this week I began a new note book! I get through around one to two journals each year, depending on the thickness of the book – when ever I start a new one it feels as if I am beginning another small chapter in my life. I can never quite get over the excitement of starting a new book its like being back at school at the start of a brand new term!  I always try at least – to write slowly and more carefully for a few pages!

My journal is a friend – one that is always available for me to write any worries or concerns, as well as recording all the little daily delights that come my way. It is not all sweetness and light – it is my go to place to vent! There is also art work that I find inspiring and the odd letter or two. It is also a great way to look back and see how I have changed over the years and I use it to record gratitude – such an essential element to wellbeing.

What I love about journalling, is that it helps to keep perspective – many a time I have written about fears or worries – things that at 2am are running round in my head that seem to be so important – usually end up ok in the end. So the next time I find myself awake and fearful at 2 am – I know it is all going to look better in the morning!

Sussex Downs
View from the Trundle, Goodwood West sussex

We took a lovely walk up to the highest point just beyond Chichester – called the Trundle. You can see for miles all round – on one side you get a great view of Goodwood Racecourse – and on the other you can look across at Chichester and then onto the sea. Unfortunately it was a little misty – but it is so invigorating to be in nature.

Forget not the

I discovered this quotation on Pinterest, sadly the link was dead so I can’t tell you the website for the original. I love the combination of vintage image and the words.

Home on the Range
Book review – home on the Range

I am a bit of a book worm -with a seemingly insatiable appetite for social domestic history. Those of you familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love or Big Magic might not know that her great grandmother also wrote a cookery book called Home on the Range.

It is more than a cookery book, it is full of wonderful stories and it fills me with hope – she struggled, often had to leave homes in the dead of night because of owing money, she was also an alcoholic – but – she overcame and wrote cheerfully about the importance of living graciously. It is a wonderful read and the recipes are good too.

Barney

Oh and Barney and I are still enjoying our beach walks!

Happy Sunday!

Joyful Easter, the only time it’s safe to put all your eggs in one basket!

Happy Easter

Having Easter in April feels just right, March always seems too early for this celebration of renewal. Long before clothes shopping was an everyday occurrence, Easter was a time when everyone wore new clothes – a small remnant remains in the many Easter Bonnet activities that still go on in Schools. Easter is a pivotal celebration – the dreariest months of the year are behind us and summer is not that far away. Time to pack up winter woolies, and make room for floaty dresses and cotton cardigans. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – because each box is a rediscovery –   like a whole new wardrobe -not just a new outfit.

Pink Crochet Baby Blanket

My beloved, daughter is expecting a little girl in August – I can’t tell you how excited I am about being a Nanna! I attended a midwife appointment with her which was marvellous – the little girl’s heartbeat resounded in the room loud and strong. Knowing its a girl somehow makes her a person already.

It is splendid that already the  process is so much better than my own experience – my own mother had died long before my daughter was born – those early days after giving birth came with such a deep longing for my mother that I suffered both baby blues and bereavement, it was a bleak time; I am so thrilled that I am here to support my daughter, if she needs me.

This is me a few days after having my daughter, I was 22 years old and had been married nearly two years –  we all wore Laura Ashley back then!

Lucy Susie baby copy

I want to wrap my daughter up, in warm fuzzy love, cherish her through this process – I am glad to see mothers  have so much more support, net mums is a great resource and one that is available for those early morning feeds when you feel you are the only one awake and  she can text the midwife anytime.

It has also drawn us closer together – she was my first baby – it is miraculous that my baby is having a baby! I am amazed at how much I had forgotten until we discuss morning sickness, stretch marks and that phenomenal sensation of fluttering baby movements. I am planning a baby shower for her, which is a lovely invention that has crossed the pond – that I am savouring every moment.

I am crocheting a pink and cream blanket, the wool is sensuously soft and delicate, I believe that you can put a positive intention of love in every stitch – which will in time wrap around the baby – pink is the colour of self love so there is a lot of it going around right now!

Vision board

This is my vision board which is plastered on the fridge, I wanted to focus on being more healthy this year and this has taken the form of mindful eating and weaning myself off sugar. Vision boards are the most fun you can have with paper, scissors and glue! You simply take a stack of magazines and cut out pictures that inspire you, paste them to paper (I use lining wall paper) and then put them somewhere you will see them every day. Repeat often – the brain loves novelty and often filters out after  a while, it is a great way to keep on track and fill every day with inspiration. I sometimes make these focussing on colours – or home decoration – Country Living is a feast of beauty and inspiration.

 

Saffron Tales
energy balls natural sugar free treat

I would say I was quite addicted to sugar – after all from an early age I was rewarded with sweets and my Nanna loaded me up with comforting sweet tea. I am not alone in this process – it seems every article on health or fitness has a campaign of demonising sugar. All the writing on the subject blames the demonising of fat thirty years ago – which has produced an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, as manufacturers loaded up our fat free food with sugar to make it palatable. I rarely eat pre packaged food, because I want to know what I am eating, sugar has many names and many forms -I was amazed to discover fresh chicken is pumped full of glycerine because it weighs more!   Despite this trend, the dairy producers are slow to react – try buying full fat yoghurt!

The Saffron tales is a delightful book – armchair travel to the middle East – including a recipe for Energy balls which can be eaten as breakfast on the go. They are made from 160g of dates which I replaced with apricots – they provide the right note of natural sweetness when my desire for a sugar hit is at its height – usually around 4 o’clock in the afternoon when dinner is hours away.  You whizz up the apricots with a cup full of flaked almonds, a table spoon each of cinnamon and vanilla in a food processor. Add enough Tahini (or you can use Almond or Peanut butter) so that the mixture forms balls – and then roll these in coconut or ground almonds. The combination of nuts and natural sugar – releases its energy over time so you avoid the crash that happens just after a sugar hit. I find they sustain me as I don’t feel hungry for a good while afterwards – I can get to suppertime without going through a dozen biscuits!

Yoga for Life

As part of my intention for a healthier year – I have been enjoying this delightful yoga lifestyle book from Maya Fiennes.  The chapters are based around the chakras – using Kundalini yoga (I did not realise there were different types of yoga before reading this book).

A Kundalini session leaves you feeling fighting fit, ready and able to tackle every day challenges with new zest.

The book contains positive quotations, recipes and poses as well as lots of beautiful inspirational photography. It encouraged me to go out and buy some kaftans and leggings – dressing the part makes me feel halfway there and they are sooo gloriously comfortable I often keep my yoga outfits on the rest of the day!

I go to a yoga class every week, but this is a great guide for those days when I want to continue to practise at home – I tried the frog pose and it was the first time I felt the soar of energy that comes from using the poses. It was like discovering magic, and it does make me feel more alive!

barney reduced size

Our evening beach walks are lovely, the sea round here is rarely choppy, and the beaches have never been crowded. I am really enjoying my photography, Barney makes a good subject!

At the end of the week we enjoyed another writing session, which is also in tune with mindful attention – its only when you step back from life an become an observer that you have an opportunity to notice all the small things.

We have family gatherings to look forward to and it is wonderful to enjoy a long weekend. Happy Easter

Easter Eggs

 

 

Enchanted April – Sunday Sevens 9th April 2017

MAKES

OH! what bliss it is to wander in Spring sunshine without a coat! It has been a delightful early spring so far, March went out like a lamb and April has been all sunshine and smiles!  The Crab apple trees on our daily walk are beautiful leaving a carpet of pink among the grass! There seems to be an abundance of pink everywhere we look –  pink is the colour of self love.  It is hard not to be affected by the burst of positive energy all around – life feels great.

I have been rifling through my seasonal clothes and have been re-united with some of my lovely summer dresses – everything feels lighter and brighter. The seeds I planted are coming along well, and we have been enjoying longer walks in the evenings – which lifts my energy levels and makes me feel better.

Spring

I unearthed my supremely comfortable pink (of course!) walking  boots and we headed to the local woods to see if we could find any wild garlic -we spotted clumps of white among the bluebells but the carpet of white flowers were anemones! They look so pretty and fresh among the vibrant greens, but I am not sure they are edible.

Primroses in the woods

These little beauties were flourishing at the side of the path – I remember when I was a child the woods would be covered in a carpet of blue, yellow and white – so it is nice to see there are still abundant wild flowers.

Old tree trunk in the woods

This tree trunk looks like some sort of Velociraptor (see the jaws on the right?) goodness knows how long its been there, but it is beautiful.

Live Simply

My quote this week reflects my decision this year to seek out the small pleasures. I know that Simple Abundance is having a huge impact and I feel as if I am waking up from a deep slumber. Once I began to mindfully, taste, touch, smell and hear it connects me with nature,  – everything you need is right here, right now, and there are gifts everywhere.

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I am a real fan of older films – this is from a film called Enchanted April made not that long ago in 1992, it is perfect Sunday afternoon viewing. Its available on Amazon for under a fiver.

A careworn middle class woman, Lottie Wilkins sees an advertisement to rent a small castle in Italy for April – England seems to be endlessly raining and her life seems so small and drab, She spends her life seeing to the whims of her husband.  When Lottie notices another lady, Rose Arbuthnot – looking just as downcast and in need of a holiday, they agree to rent it together. Two other ladies join them, a socialite Lady Caroline and a dowdy, widow Mrs Fisher. Italy works its magic and we see the women flourish among the terraced gardens and turrets of the small castle.

The book, by Elizabeth Arnim was written in 1921 – and is semi-biographical created when she was physically, and emotionally exhausted, having recently become a single mother. To recover  she travelled to Italy to get away from dreary England – and one day she observed the beautiful gardens below her study, and so she transformed the magic into a story of hope and liberation.

What the book highlights, is just how burdened women can be – and not just from responsibility but their own continual desire to ensure the happiness of those around them, family, friends neighbours. Nearly 100 years later women are still juggling with these same issues of commitments and family stress.

Women run on expectations, the way a car is fuelled by gas. And it doesn’t matter whose: unspoken assignments from parents, bosses clients, children and lovers all crowd our calendars’ borders in ink only we can see.

While the film is delightful, I am finding the book has more depth, you read from each character’s perspective – you get inside their heads whereas the film can only hint at hidden motives. I found the character Lady Caroline more interesting, she is stunningly beautiful – but it is a burden that perhaps I had not appreciated until reading her tale.

hair do

My beloved son, Will is the Director of a Salon in Hampshire every 6 weeks my friend Jo and I  jaunt off for the day to have our hair done together. We usually spend a couple of hours browsing the shops and head to the Salon just after closing hours. We have the whole salon to ourselves.  Afterwards, we head out for a bite or two, sometimes we go jive dancing -depending on how exhausted he is after working all day!

Afternoon tea

Mothers Day was a protracted affair, my daughter and son in law came over for Afternoon tea, and then my son came over for a meal the following weekend, so it has been a great family time all round. I adored Mr D’s swirly sausage rolls and had more than one … or two!

Staffie in the woods
Staffordshire Bull terrier, Barney with ball

Of course, we can’t let a week go by without a Barney picture.. the ball is still intact surprisingly, although it did start out as a cuddly pig, but the pig fabric ended up decorating the lounge floor!

Happy Sunday. x

Sunday sevens is the delightful invention of Nat.. read her blog here. 

Playful -Sunday Sevens

Sunday sevens playful

So my theme this week has been playful, with the intention of introducing a little more fun in my life.

It is an odd thing, some of the best projects I have been really delighted with have often come from a sense of play with no other purpose but to simply enjoy the process.

Quote of the week-2So my quote this week is based around the theme of playful.

It seems to me that to be creative requires a childlike sense of wonder and discovery.

I have a battle going on with my sensible adult that believes in outcome and having something to show for my time spent – idea that play can be put down to research is an attempt to balance the inner child and the adult!

I made a list of some fun activities to do over the week: Creative writing, a flower arrangement, colouring, calligraphy, bath bombs and creating a scrapbook or vision board.

Creative writing:

Candle of rememberance

This week saw our first creative date for the writing group. We decided to meet in Chichester Cathedral and make it a process of observation and an opportunity to try and capture the sense of the place. It was surprising, I was expecting a sense of sanctuary and holiness, instead there was as much hassle and bustle as the high street outside. A side door was open and musicians were unloading huge instruments on squeaky wheels – into an area of the cathedral.

After lighting a candle for those we lost, we took our places near one of the chapel areas to observe and imbibe the atmosphere focusing on senses as a guide. We had our notebooks if we wanted to jot something down, but it was vital to simply be in the moment.

The seat was hard and cold, I felt the chill ebbing away my body heat, there was a strange taste of chalky stone, that you only get from old books and old buildings.   I sensed movement in the rush of air, then the strange scuffing of shuffling feet announced the imminent arrival of several people on an official tour of the cathedral. The guide’s monologue was not hushed or reverent but strident – the sound reverberating round the lofty heights. He was talking about dedication – old sacred relics and sanctuary but it was delivered in a passionless monotone that became background noise.

I felt somewhat perplexed, this was not the peaceful moment I had anticipated. Just when I thought it could not get any worse, someone began speaking through a tannoy system – advising us that a service would begin then offering up prayers including the Lords Prayer. I was lost for a moment in contemplation – the familiar words bringing back childhood memories. But the loudspeaker was thunderous, the guide continued his monotone, while the click of cameras, and shuffling feet of visitors created a modern symphony.

We watched a procession of elderly people, each with wheeled walkers, take their places in the pews. The unseen this voice filled the space and bouncing off the high walls and gargoyles.  Words that stirred forgotten memories, of childhood, Sunday Services, Red Robes and choir singing.  Forgive us father for our sins…

It all seemed so bizarre and far from my expectations – but eventually, after a time – the feet shuffled away, the chapel gates closed and the tannoy was silent. Like dust caught in sunlight, I felt the sense of timeless devotion float down from the high arches and slowly settle around me, silence enveloped me like a warm cloak. The building, retained it’s holiness when everyone had gone.

bubbles and barney

Barney personifies playful – he loves running and jumping for bubbles… we did this on a fairly calm day, but the bubbles were flying everywhere! I am learning more about photography, even to the point of reading my manual! I can’t call manual reading fun exactly, but planning shots has been  a challenge. It took about thirty or so shots to get one that was mostly in focus!

Bath bombs are the grown up version of sand castles! I love making them and it is simply wonderful to feel the bubbles tickle your back as they dissolve releasing natural aromatherapy. These look like rockets – I used the inside of the lemon juicer of all things to create the shape.

Bath BombsHere’s the recipe if you want to try your own.

1 cup of cornflour

1/2 cup of citric acid

1/2 cup of bicarbonate of soda.

Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil – chamomile and lavender: good before bedtime, or lime and rosemary for a bit of a refresher. You can add food colouring if you like.

Use a spray bottle to wet the ingredients so that it just comes together (think of sandcastles) use cake tins or jelly moulds and then turn out. Leave for a day to harden off and then wrap in clingfilm. Drop one or two in a bath – the sent will fill the air! I also make foot bath ones with peppermint oil and rosemary, they are perfect to relieve tired feet and you can finish with a bit of a pedicure for the five star treatment!

Elephant plant arrangement

I know nothing about flower arranging – but I do enjoy making the most of a bunch of flowers – I love this elephant! I am not sure I would win any prizes for my display, but it was fun!

Quill

Isn’t this pen heavenly? I love calligraphy, using a quill takes practise you can end up with blotches here and there and the ink runs out quite quickly. As a novelty it is fun, but not sure I could exchange my ball point for one of these.

Coffee on the beach

Friday evening was glorious if a little chilly in the wind, we sat and enjoyed warm coffee while the waves gently lapped. We had the whole cafe and beach to ourselves, how blissful.

Sunday Morning breakfast

Of course there is nothing more delightful than spending time in bed, I love getting up slowly at the weekends don’t you?

Sunday Sevens is the wonderful creation of Nat at Threads and bobbins.

next theme….senses

 

 

 

 

Sunday Sevens – Rejuvenation

Seven little things

I love reading the Sunday Sevens posts – the idea was created by Nat at Thread’s and Bobbins – a snapshot of everyone’s week. It’s been an amazing concept that has brought bloggers together as well as giving a regular discipline to blog regularly.

I have been a bit his and miss with my participation, mostly because my weeks aren’t all that fascinating! I grew up in a world before Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – there’s a small part of me that still feels a slight discomfort at the selfies and status updates, it all feels a uncomfortably narcissistic, but blogging is an opportunity to write. Given my love of talking… it is a perfect combination!

Rejuvenate

1 -My theme for the week

The focus of my week has been about rejuvenation and creation of self nurture rituals- from the wonderful book Well being by Barbara Close. It is a delightful read – a holistic approach to health by season. She describes the book as a Self Care Manual, to enhance your body’s ability to heal itself and reawaken your senses to the rewarding rituals of natural healing.

Rituals seems a rather strange in our modern thinking – conjuring up notions of witchcraft or religious ceremony, yet they form part of our everyday lives – brushing my teeth can be considered a ritual because I do it everyday. However, the invitation is to integrate the sacred into the every day, doing things that cultivate self care. It is the mindful attention that elevates any activity into ritual. In our time poor society, I am usually multi-tasking, but I notice that when I spend time focussing on one thing, it can be delightful sensuous adventure.

The problem with health is that we don’t really think about it until we get ill. In a week of near constant six days of migraine, health has been quite high on my agenda this week. As much as I would like to simply go to bed in a darkened room, I suffer migraines at least once a month and sometimes they last for up to ten days, taking that much time off is not an option. It feels like I am trying to do anything that will appease the Gods drumming inside my head! Mindful attention (or mindfulness) is a way to distract myself, and it sometimes helps.

 

Blood orange

2 -Sensual Experience

Scott came down with a bug this week, dosing up with Vitamin C is supposedly the best treatment.   Blood oranges are in season, they look amazing don’t they? We started on Monday, continuing most of the week, with freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

I love doing this because recently I bought the most amazing juicer, (the dome ones that you do by hand) it is so good when something works! I cannot tell you how sensuous it was to press the orange and feel the give as  the blood coloured liquid poured out! You get sticky hands, I scoop up the pulp and eat it greedily. Blood oranges makes dark red juice – which tastes so intensely of orange,  refreshingly strong and not overly sweet.  It is a divine pleasure and after all that hard work, it feels luxurious.

There are fond memories connected with this sensual activity: my Grandpop  would deliver breakfast in bed to my Grandma every day – which included alongside the freshly squeezed orange juice, tea and special K cereal and always a single flower from the garden. My Grandma was like the queen: kindly and scary at the same time, she lived until she was 96!

moody beach

3 – Adventures beyond four walls

The evenings are getting lighter and I have adjusted my working hours to finish at 4 – so Barney and I have been going for longer walks. Last Tuesday the day was gloriously sunny but by 4 a sea mist had rolled in creating a strange atmosphere, there were a few people about but not many. We headed to the beach, as it was low tide, I enjoy the sinking sensation of walking on wet sand and you can walk for miles! The sun looked like the moon the mist was so strong, but I have added a filter to the picture, which has given it a strange glow!

Barney on the Beach

Barney doesn’t quite get the concept of paying ball, he believes the task is to catch the ball and keep it safe, so I end up having to walk to where he is and grapple to get the ball back to throw it again. I usually manage 4 times before he refuses to give up the ball.  He is such a smiley dog, making lots of friends every where we go, but as you can see he takes his ball guarding role very seriously!

Hot Chocolate

4 -This week’s bliss

We have the tiniest kitchen ever so I tend not to purchase kitchen gadgets – however I had my eye on a milk steamer for at least four weeks before buying one. It is the best gadget I’ve bought in a long while. We had a Tassimo but I dread to think what the pouches contain – I like to know what I am drinking.

My hot chocolate could not be any easier to make – I put the cup in a bowl of boiling water, and pop three or four Montezuma’s dark 73percent Couverture buttons to melt. (I don’t have a microwave) I pour a cup of milk in the steamer and press the button, in less than a minute the milk is hot just like ice-cream! It is heavenly.

Reading for pleasure

5 -What I am reading..

Last month at our WI – a lovely lady did a talk on patchwork, it was fascinating! She gave us a potted history of Quilting and how the tradition travelled with the pilgrims to America.

What I didn’t know was how quilting bee’s  brought the communities together – women were so isolated when they headed West – quilting was a way you could get to know your neighbours. Quilts were also used to cover the wagons because they offered protection from arrows!

She mentioned, in passing, the Little House on the Prairie which I adored when I was growing up. I never read the books so I decided I would give it a try, starting with the first book The Little House in the Big Woods it is a charming book! Living in England it is so hard to imagine living anywhere so far from neighbours or civilisation! The cosiness of the little wooden home and the way she describes  -it is captivating. I think it must have been an extremely hard life, especially for her mother, but it is wonderful adventure to enjoy, in bed under my warm quilts!

I’ve become not just nostalgic for the TV series (yes it is onTrue Entertainment 7am! followed by the Waltons!) I feel the urge to make one of those those gorgeous holly hobbie rag dolls!

Leek and potato Soup

6 – Seasonal Pleasures

Chicken soup is the soul food when you are feeling poorly, however, in true pioneer style, not having any chicken in the house, I decided to make do with what we had! It wasn’t any hardship. We get a delivery of organic fruit and veg to our door every Thursday, from a local farm in Oving. Having tried Able and Cole and Riverford, I have to say this is a better supplier. I think it is because they are small and genuinely local less than 5 miles away. It is a good way to connect with the seasons and so we have been living on potatoes, leeks, swede and carrots for a while.

Soup for the soul

I made leek and potato soup – the leeks smelt divine I am certain they were in the ground the previous day! I added in Tumeric and garlic because they are both anti viral foods, and while it might not have been up to Mr D’s impeccable standards, (he is the chef in our house and bears the sole responsibility for my waistline) the soup made me feel better. The sore throat, that had developed on Wednesday was gone by Friday but sadly the headaches have outstayed their welcome.

Home spa

7 – Highlight of the week

There is nothing more rejuvenating than a bath – what ever has happened in my life – laying in hot water has always helped me to pick myself up again. Well being includes many bath recipes – you can either make your own mega tea bags – which allow the herbs to seep, or you can hang a jelly bag over your taps and let the water flow through the herbs. Once again, it makes taking a bath a sensual experience, if you also combine a few drops of essential oils – it is simply soothing to the weary body and soul.

My personal favourite at the moment is oats, milk and rose essential oil, oats are alkaline, and they soften the skin which it is especially good for eczema. After you have let the water run through the oats, twist it closed and wash your body with it. (Dried powdered milk perfect – as is ordinary oats!) The Rose oil is the most expensive item, and expect to pay around £15 for a small bottle, anything less and you aren’t getting the essential oil. You can even add rose petals which float around you for that added luxury. (although it is wise to cover the plug with one of the sink stoppers to save blocking the drains… explaining to a plumber why your drains are full of rose petals might not be the such a pleasant experience!)

I would not have survived without peppermint oil this week – applied as a cold compress with a flannel, it has lifted some of the nausea enough to be able to get on with life.

Next week’s theme is playful…

Happy Sunday..

ttfn x

Susanna

 

 

 

 

Sunday Sevens – Rainy days and Sundays

spring fowers

It has been a hectic week at work, I am feeling somewhat frazzled and in need of restoration. The fog outside is creating a strange sort of atmosphere today, the ticking of the clock and the occasional whoosh from the cars driving through the puddles outside are all the sounds I can hear. Its rainy day weather, as I write everyone in the house is sleeping and even the dog ran back to the house this morning, not wanting his usual long walk in the woods.

spring flowers 2

Romancing the Ordinary, (yes that book again!)

Sometimes at the end of a tough week, I’m too frazzled and restless to watch a film or nap. What can I do besides whine? Rainy day cupboards were the saving grace of Victorian Mothers. In these treasure troves of inspiration were neat and clearly marked boxes of craft supplies, games and novelties that were only enjoyed on a rainy day. Same clever concept what about a neat clearly marked projects adapted to capture the interest of a tired jaded woman.

Two caveats ensure the success of this tradition, novelty and preparation. These should not be crafts that are your normal activity, experiment, browse the craft aisle of your local store for projects in a box. Or create your own, put all the ingredients for a new recipe in a box purely for a day such as this.

When you open the cupboard everything you need should be there, its been my experience that rainy day fun has about 3 minutes to hold my interest before I sigh and slink back into my chair.

March might be the beginning of spring, but it is also known for wet windy weather so it is  easy to slip into despondency about rainy days, but they can be brightened up by doing something new.

I love novelty – you can get lovely little storage boxes from the stationery store or there are little craft packs that come with magazines – Mollie Makes this month came with a pretty little loom. I think I might start putting a few of these together for the next rainy day, I am pretty certain I won’t be waiting all that long! I also like the idea of a small project that can be done in an afternoon.

blue and white

So this wet Sunday, I’ve been experimenting with a bit of photography, and while the light isn’t great on a rainy day, it has been a bit of fun. I’ve been following a blog for a while now, it is heavily religious but the posts fill me with inspiration because the photography is so good (I tend to skim the text!)

 

Our home is still in a bit of a muddle, the garage is full of boxes I need to sort out but as I have gone through things box by box, I have been acquainted with all the small treasures that give me delight. This little jug and saucer set is quite small, but the colour is such a delightful cheery yellow – I can’t resist the spring colour. I picked it up in a charity shop for £2.

Easter might be some time away, but the tulips, daffodils and crocus are pushing their way through the darkness, even though they are battered by the wind, they still flower. The garden is full of buds, the willow has lovely white tufts and I noticed the cherry tree is beginning to bud. I’ve planted some seeds – deciding to focus on flowers rather than veg, we get an organic box delivery every week. There is nothing more delightful than cutting your own flowers and bringing them indoors. I’ve chosen a fragrant sweet pea variety – when they flower you have to continually pick them and they are wonderful to give to friends. You almost never, see them in the shops. I’ve also planted chamomile, lemon balm and enchinacia. I have some dahlia tubers to pot up, so it should be a fragrant summer. The cosmos won the race, with this lovely shoot appearing in a matter of days.

We had a lovely lunch with friends yesterday, afterwards the guys went to a pub to watch the rugby and we headed of to look for curtain material. It is shocking how much it costs to make curtains! Jo has a huge bay window  – while I am happy to help it is going to be a huge undertaking. We have a wonderful warehouse place just outside of Chichester called Falcon Fabrics and we found a number of lovely fabrics there.

Pink roses study

We made the last 15 minutes of the Rugby game, England did very well which pleased me, poor Scott was sad to see his team lose. It is always a good atmosphere watching these matches in the pub rather than home.

roses and lace

This week was the first meeting of our writing group and it went really well. We have arranged a creative date in a couple of weeks. The idea comes from the Artist’s way, where you make regular outings or time to do something creative. We intend to visit three different locations in Chichester – and spend some time in each. I am looking forward to it, and I am enjoying writing and have a short story to complete by next week.

Yellow flowers springI’ve used Picasa to edit my photographs – however I notice that when they are uploaded the processing is not as good as it could be. The pictures are a bitt fuzzy and blurry, mainly due to the reduction in size so that they will load quicker.

The light balance in my camera is not great, I have adapted the settings, but I will have to set up some proper lighting instead of relying on the daylight coming through the window.

So I might look into photoshop – I haven’t used it for years – and it is always good to try something new. I also need to get some new memory for my Mac – these things seem to use much more resources. However, it has been fun, composing and experimenting with photography for a change and making the most of a rainy day.

Happy Sunday!